How Peer Support Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Illustration to represent support

I often like to refer to our self-hypnosis CDs and downloads as ‘Personal Change Programs’. They are personal because they are intended for use by one person, you. They are also private and you can work on personal issues without having to tell anyone. Privacy is important, particularly for some sensitive issues that you might prefer to keep to yourself. However, if you’re using our self-hypnosis programs to help motivate yourself on reaching a certain goal, then consider reaching out for peer support.

One of the nicest and simplest things about peer support is that there’s no specific formula and no single way to do it. A phone call from your mother, exercising with your best friend and chatting with your partner about the day’s events are all forms of peer support. Some people seek out more extensive forms of peer support. This sort of peer support occurs when you work with people who have similar goals. 12-step programs, which help people recover from addictions, are classic examples of more structured peer support.

Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous use sponsors as a form of peer support. Sponsors are people who are relatively far into the journey toward sobriety; a new member picks a sponsor and can call the sponsor when he needs help or is tempted to use. Unlike mental health professionals and other experts, a sponsor has been there. Not only does the sponsor serve as clear evidence that it gets better; a sponsor can also offer specific strategies that worked for him.

One of the most challenging aspects of working toward a goal is feeling lonely. Particularly when you hit a stumbling block, it’s easy to get caught in a spiral of negativity and feel like you’re the only person who has struggled with a particular issue. But peer support reassures you that you’re not alone by helping you weather the storm alongside others who are struggling with the same issues as you.

The benefits of peer support vary depending on your specific goal. A workout buddy can help keep you motivated and reassure you that slow weight loss is normal; a writer’s group can share ideas and critiques. Peers are often more likely to recommend non-traditional remedies (like hypnosis!). A peer who has struggled with sleep problems, for example, can share nutritional and lifestyle changes that helped her, enabling you to achieve better overall health and wellness. The list of possibilities for peer support is truly endless, but here are some specific benefits of peer support:

  • Increased motivation to achieve challenging goals.
  • Reassurance that a goal is possible.
  • Insight and opinions from someone who has struggled with the same issue.
  • Less isolation, depression and hopelessness.
  • A sympathetic ear.

Peer support begins with reaching out to your social network. Talk to family and friends who might be willing to help you with your goals. Ask people with similar goals if they’d be willing to work with you. You could, for example, invite your best friend to join a gym with you. If your problems are more complex or you can’t find someone in your social network willing to help you, the Internet can be a powerful tool. Try locating a message board dedicated to your specific goal or issue; peer support doesn’t have to be in-person.

Websites dedicated to specific issues also frequently provide lists of resources. Try joining a support group, volunteering with a group of people or contacting a national organization dedicated to a specific goal you’re interested in achieving. The key for getting good peer support is putting yourself out there. Once you do, you’ll begin expanding your network and may be surprised by how many people are willing to help you achieve your goals.

Don’t forget that peer support also works both ways. There will be times when people close to you need help reaching their own goals, so be sure to be there for them too.